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Thursday, 7 January 2016

A Roller Coaster of a Year

Several days ago, the world welcomed 2016 with fireworks, kisses, toasts, and best wishes for the coming months. 2015 is now behind us as life is forever moving forward. But sometimes, we need to look back in order to move forward. In today’s post, I’m looking back on the year now behind us.

2015 was one hell of a roller coaster ride (for me, at least). January started on a high note, as I completed a massive edit of the first eight chapters of Book One in my trilogy. Those first eight chapters were edited in response to an editing consultation I had won through publisher, Simon & Schuster. Back in November 2014, the publisher hosted a write-in at an Indigo-Chapters in downtown Toronto in coalition with National Novel Writing Month. All in attendance filled out ballots to win the opportunity to have the first 50,000 words of their novel read by an editor. My name was the one pulled. Not long after I finished the massive edit, a gentleman I consider a close friend told me he was returning to Toronto. I met him here when he was living here on a working-holiday visa. At the end of 2013, he returned to London, England. In January 2015, he told me he was returning in February, but I had to keep quiet until he’d announced it “officially”. I was one of a select few who knew his plans. I felt pretty special, knowing I was included in that small group. But, I’m horrible at keeping secrets, so it was a tense few weeks until he announced his departure from England on Facebook. You can only imagine the relief I felt when I saw that. I didn’t have to keep the secret anymore, and I could, outwardly, be excited about his return. And I was!

I also read his book, the first in a quartet of novels, The Puppet Master: An MSCE Investigation in about two and a half weeks, which is one of my faster records when it comes to reading a book. I loved the book! You can read my review of the book here: Book Review - The Puppet Master: An MSCE Investigation.

The Puppet Master is available on Amazon at the two following links: The Puppet Master on, and The Puppet Master on

The end of January saw me on an impromptu drive to Barrie, and getting my full G driver’s license. Just in time, too!

February saw me planning two trips: a weekend jaunt to Niagara Falls, and a 4 day trip to Mt. Tremblant in the neighbouring Province of Quebec. I only made it to one of those adventures. On Family Day weekend (Feb 14-16), two girlfriends and I went down to Niagara Falls. A couple of weeks prior, I applied for a membership for Zipcar, a car sharing company. I received my card about five days before we were to leave, and quickly reserved a car for our adventure. And yes, adventure is the right word for this trip. Our catchphrase very quickly became, “We’re going on an adventure!” after I missed the highway cut off for Niagara Falls. The weekend was the coldest, snowiest weekend in February, but we made more than the best of it. We wandered Clifton Hill, feeling much like a trio of bumbling two-year-olds all bundled up to keep the cold out. We went behind the falls, which I’d never done before. It was quite fascinating to see the frozen Falls from the other side. We went through the Butterfly Conservatory, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum, and Louis Toussaud’s Wax museum, and did many silly touristy things simply because we could. My girlfriends’ favourite place to visit in Niagara Falls is, Bird Kingdom, and it quickly became one of my favourites. Bird Kingdom is a giant aviary with free-flying birds in several large rooms. The largest is… well, HUGE, and is one of my favourite of the rooms. My other favourite room houses some of my favourite parrot species, including my dream bird, the African Grey.

Heather with the Pied Crow.

African Grey

"Feed me! Feed me!"

The Canadian Falls in February.

A week later, the roller coaster that 2015 would become began. My mom had a cardiac arrest, and dropped dead in front of me. After a call to 911 and with the quick actions of our colleague and of EMS, she was revived, but had a long road of recovery ahead of her. A couple of friends kept close tabs on me, and one of them had me stay with them for the first couple of nights. My mother spent 10 days in hospital before continuing her recovery at home. For the next six weeks, I only went from work and home, and found myself needing the weekly write-in get-togethers I have with friends. It was then I realized just how much those Friday write-ins mean, and how much those people keep me grounded and sane… well, as sane as I can possibly be.

In March, my uncle passed away after a hard fought battle with cancer and my cousin was back in the hospital due to complications from a medical issue he had the year prior.

April and May were largely uneventful with my mom returning to work mid-April. At the end of April, I caught a theatre show, starring a friend of mine. The show was called, Gingers in Love, and the friend of mine is, Rebecca Perry. She's made quite the dent in the theatre world here in Toronto, as well as all over Canada with her self-written, self-produced, one woman show, Confessions of a Red-headed Coffee Shop Girl. She's a force to be reckoned with, and if you are ever able to catch one of her shows, go! She's currently starring in another self-written show at Factory Theatre in Toronto. From Judy to Bette showcases the talents of Judy Garland, Betty Hutton, Lucile Ball, and Bette Davis, women who were trailblazers in their time and refused to be just another ingenue. If you can, check it out! You can find out more about it, as well as buy tickets, here:

In May, I met with a small group of friends at a friend’s 19th floor apartment to watch the Victoria Day fireworks from their balcony. From that height, and location in the city, we caught the firework displays at Exhibition and Ashbridges Bay. In June, I took a Saturday day trip back to Niagara Falls with two girlfriends. I spent far too much money, but the friends and the fun was well worth every dime.

July was the beginning of the nearly four months I spent dealing with an ailment of some sort. A pulled muscle in my neck was followed by a pull muscle in my side. For three days in August, I had a bout of aches and pains all over my body. At times, it felt like someone was jabbing me with needles from head to toe. Had I not have had to work that weekend and Monday, I’d have spent those days in bed. I thought it was maybe a flu, but I didn’t have any other flu-like symptoms – just the aches. Then, Monday evening, as quickly as it came on, it disappeared. But its exit reminded me that I still had a pulled muscle in my side. That soon went away as well.

But, despite those ailments, July also brought me a wedding. No, not mine. Longtime friend, Shannon Boyce married the love of her life on July 4th in a fairy tale ceremony. Shannon is a fellow blogger, one I suggest following if you’re in need of makeup and beauty tips. You can check out her blog, here: The Creation of Beauty is Art

In the summer, the Toronto Fringe Festival came to town. I was only able to catch one show, but it was a good one. Remember when I spoke about Rebecca Perry earlier in this post? Remember the mention of Confessions of a Redheaded Coffee Shop Girl? Well, I caught the sequel to it, Adventures of a Redheaded Coffee Shop Girl. It was a gem of a show and I was glad I caught it. Rebecca's first show, Confessions, went on to be featured at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it quickly became a successful 5-star show with many, many, sold out performances. If you want to keep tabs on Rebecca's future shows and endeavours, check out her website,

For much of August and September, I was laid up with a badly sprained ankle (it took some urging from a couple of friends to me to get it looked at), followed by a bout of bursitis. Bursitis is when the bursa sac, a sac of fluid that reduces friction between bones at the joins, gets inflamed. The inflammation causes discomfort, and stiffness, and sometimes pain. It took going to my GP to finally get something strong enough to drain the fluid. Bursitis is something I tend to get every couple of years or so. It’s not comfortable.

Like July, August brought some happiness amidst the ailments. My cousin got married to the love of his life in a simple, but beautiful ceremony. I also caught a show written and directed by a good friend of mine, David Kingsmill - the same gentlemen who wrote, The Puppet Master. The show was, Out of the Lens. It’s a show that is still a bit rough around the edges and needs a bit of tweaking, but it has the potential to go somewhere. You can read my review of that show here Out of the Lens: A Story of Discovery and Love in its Purest Form.

For more on David Kingsmill's endeavours, including his gaming podcast, Once Upon a Die, check out his website: Dragon Literature.

On September 21st and 22nd, I saw Josh Groban in concert in the Sony Centre for Performing Arts. He was on tour promoting his latest album, Stages, an album of songs from the Broadway stage. I spent far too much money on these shows, but the experience more than made up for it. I met a fellow Grobanite (the term us fans call ourselves), and even met Josh after the first show. It was a beautiful two night engagement I didn't want to see end.
Josh Groban with Lena Hall. Show one.

Josh and Lena show two.
The person behind THE VOICE!

Oh so magical!

Me and Josh after the first concert.
He is one heck of an awesome guy.

October was a much brighter month… After I fell down half a flight of concrete stairs, and got through two back-to-back colds. My knees are quite darkly scared from the friction burns. But, a week later, I was at two Hanson concerts two night in a row. It was a great chance to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in a while due to life getting in the way of the best laid plans. October also proved to be a fairly busy month, as I was prepping for the craziest month of the year: National Novel Writing Month. I was on the moderator team again this year, and October meant I was needed in meetings to iron out last minute details.


The Band

November was brightened, not only by National Novel Writing Month (NaNo), but by a pair of knitted parrots who flew in to stay with me for 10 days. Sammy (a white Umbrella Cockatoo) and Beanzy (an African Grey) were made in France, and have been going on adventures around North America since August 2015. They came in for a landing to me shortly after NaNo started, and they were extremely helpful with the write-in events I hosted. I took them on a couple of sight-seeing adventures, and to work, before they took off for their next adventure.

(I am a member of a bird forum called, Avian Avenue, and Sammy and Beanzy came to me through there via a game sort of like the Travelling Elf.)
Sammy and Beanzy on the subway!
All kids love playing in the leaves!
A trip to Canada wouldn't be
complete without some Tim Hortons

The final 10 days of 2015 were spent as a live-in birdsitter for two of my friends. They went home to Edmonton over Christmas, and rather than board their two Conures, I lived in their apartment while they were away. They provided me a rental car to get to and from work, and I looked after their Conures, who I affectionately call my God-birds, or God-fids. (Fids stands for feathered kids.) It was nice to get away from home for a while, and to have a brief crash course in both living on my own and having birds. I grew up with Budgies, and now have a cat, but I, eventually, want to be the owned human of a bird again.
Frodo; Green Cheeked Conure.
Mango; Blue-Throated Conure

November was brightened, not only by National Novel Writing Month (NaNo), but by a pair of knitted parrots who flew in to stay with me for 10 days. Sammy (a white Umbrella Cockatoo) and Beanzy (an African Grey) were made in France, and have been going on adventures around North America since August 2015. They came in for a landing to me shortly after NaNo started, and they were extremely helpful with the write-in events I hosted. I took them on a couple of sight-seeing adventures, and to work, before they took off for their next adventure.

I did not win NaNo, but I finished with an even 25,000 words. I wished with that number about four days before November ended, and chose to just relax for the last few days. Hopefully next year’s NaNo will go much smoother and I’ll write the required amount of words! Here’s hoping!

December came up on me quite quickly. A mix of unusually warm weather, and a couple of deaths in the month had me not feeling the Christmas spirit as I normally do around this time. In a normal year, I start feeling Christmasy by the time the Santa Clause Parade rolls through town in November. This year, I wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to, but could get into it.

Christmas Eve saw me in Oshawa having a quiet get-together with my mother, two aunts, and one uncle. After a buffet meal, we went back to my one aunt’s to open gifts and chat.

I also said goodbye to a good friend when I drove him to the airport to emigrate to the U.S. He met a woman in Florida who stole his heart, and he made the move to be with her. It was bittersweet to be the last of his Toronto friends to see him before he departed. But, I know he is happy, and preparing for the next chapter of his life.

Well, there’s my 2015 in review. I don’t really have any resolutions for 2016; I don’t make them any more. But, I hope to have a happier 2016, and to be able to manage my depression a bit better. I’m hoping to be social and get out to events as often as I can. However, my biggest hope is to be able to save enough money to be able to move out into my own apartment. The saving money bit is going to take the most energy and discipline. But, I do hope to be social in spite of pinching my pennies. (Yes, I’m aware we don’t have pennies anymore.)

How was your 2015? What hopes, dreams, or resolutions do you have for 2016? Let me know in the comments!